Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Mosquito Cruise 9/14/2008

This is our second and final trip to the Gulf Coast Barrier Islands before the BP oil spill.  I just haven't had the heart to go again and witness the devastation first hand.  Our first trip to the islands in our trusty little McKenzie River Drift boat was punctuated by high winds and waves.  This trip was calm, balmy, and remembered most by the enormous numbers of mosquitos.   Our launch site would be the same as our first trip, Biloxi Hard Rock Casino parking lot equipped with a public boat launch.  We arrived late in the day so decided we were going to camp on Deer Island only a mile from the casino instead of try and make it to Horn Island.

Here is the route of the "Mosquito Cruise".  Deer Island to Horn Island to East Ship Island and back.

Getting ready to launch at the Hard Rock Casino parking lot in Biloxi, MS.

We are headed to Deer Island for our first night.  It is visible from the Hard Rock Casino.
We had a bright moon as I cook fish at our first camp on Deer Island.

The mosquitos were always waiting for someone to exit their tent.

It is hot, balmy and calm as we leave Deer Island headed for Horn Island 9 miles away.  

We pass a shrimper with passengers in tow.

We make camp on the western end of Horn Island.

We learned to camp on the ends of the islands so we could use the wind to keep the mosquitos from consuming us.  

Although the wind created problems at camp during tent setup and blowing sand in our food, it kept the bug numbers down and that was worth the trouble.  
We make camp on the western end of Horn Island after leaving Deer Island.  
We have a wonderful evening walking around the marshes on the western side of Horn Island.  

We explore Horn Island in the late afternoon hours.

The sun setting over Horn Island.

We walk to the gulf side of Horn to do some late afternoon fishing.

The gulf side of Horn Island.

Beautiful sunset on the Gulf.

Our third day out on the western end of Horn Island.  

Squalls moved through and produced some nice sized waves and great fishing.

The tide and wind start kicking up some nice sized waves.
Our third day out on the western end of Horn Island, we decided to fish the area before we loaded up the boat and motor to the east end of Horn for our next camp.  The water is usually too rough to get through the pass and onto the gulf side of Horn, but today was not so bad so we got over there and had a great day fishing.   Squalls were moving through and as we were bobbing in the waves in our small wooden boat we noticed a boat, the only boat we had seen in a while, heading straight for us at high speed.  It was the US Coast Guard. He motored up to us and asked if we had life jackets.  We grabbed them off the floor of the boat and said, "Yes Sir we do".  He just looked at us and shook his head and said, "Good Luck!"  I don't think he was talking about our fishing.  Soon after he left I lost my balance and fell in.  Hurricanes Ike and Gustav had just passed through days before and I came out smelling like diesel fuel.

We had a great day of fishing off of Horn Island.

After a 15 minute battle, I finally land a big Jack Crevalle.

Darryl hooks into another fish.

We boat and release a nice King Mackerel. 

We see many dolphin on this trip.

Here we are on a sandbar on the gulf side of Horn Island headed for the Eastern end.

I catch a Blue fish in the surf.

Darryl and I stop to watch a large shark almost get stuck on the sandbar as it heads off into deeper water.

Here is our camp on the eastern end of Horn Island.
After landing on the east end of Horn Island, Darryl and I noticed a lot of bird action in the gulf.  We grabbed our fishing gear and headed out in the boat.  The birds were showing us where the fish were as they dove for baitfish on the surface.  As I through my lure toward the fish, I managed to tangle a bird up in my line.  I reeled the bird up to the boat and as I was untangling the bird a fish took my lure.  So, I had a bird and fish on my line.  I finally released the bird and started reeling in the fish.  There was a huge explosion where at the end of my line and I told Darryl I had a large shark on.  It had grabbed my fish as I was reeling him in.  Then my line went slack and I reeled in half a fish.  In one cast, I had a bird, a fish, and a shark on my line and ended up with a fish head.  After fishing for 30 minutes, that same Coast Guard boat came flying up to us again.  We were about 12 miles from where he saw us the day before.  He motored up to us and said, "So you guys are still out here.  You doing OK? " And then he couldn't contain himself.  He said,"You know, that sure is a small boat with a small engine in a big ocean. But I guess you know that."  And off he went shaking his head all the way.  
The tide rolls out and our boat is stranded on the beach.

Cooking dinner on the east end of Horn Island.
A buoy loses its mooring during the two hurricanes that have recently hit the area, Gustav and Ike.

The wind tries to carry Darryl's tent away.

The tide rolls out and the sun goes down on Horn Island.

Enjoying the sunset at our camp on the eastern end of Horn Island.
Darryl doing dishes on Horn Island.
The next day we load up and head for East Ship Island.  We have another beautiful day in the sun.

Darryl getting comfy after is morning beers.
Stingrays cruising under the boat.
Land Ho! East Ship Island is barely visible on the horizon.

Darryl wakes up after his little nap after slugging 5 Belhavens.

Approaching East Ship Island.

We land on East Ship Island.
We land on East Ship Island and make our last camp for the trip.

A small shark kept me on my toes as I fished the point.

We finally catch an edible fish but we are just too tired to cook it and back to the sea it goes.

I baby sea turtle survives two hurricanes only to be caught and eaten by Pat.  Just kidding.

How does such a fragile creature survive two hurricanes.

Our last camp on East Ship Island.  
East Ship Island is a lonely and desolate place.

We get up at 4:30 AM the next morning and head back to Biloxi.  It is dark as we motor our way home and after an hour of motoring, a large container ship is coming up on us from astern.  They actually shine a beacon on us.  I wonder if they could actually see us on radar.  Anyway, we got out of their way and made a safe trip back to the car.


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